This morning, writing on Juan Cole’s Informed Consent, Scott Prosterman placed Ken Burn’s latest in a frightening U.S. context: Ken Burns’ Holocaust Documentary should set our Hair on Fire about the Creep of Trumpian Fascism. Burns has called the documentary the most important film he will ever make. “Watching the excavation by Burns, Novick an and Botstein,” wrote Prosterman, “of the slow creep of an unbalanced far right in Germany reminded me vividly of what we have seen happen in the United States over the past half-decade. The Fascism of Trump’s political movement has taken over the Republican Party, and threatens to destroy the Republic. The MAGA denial of the results of the 2020 Election and its determination to rig future elections are undeniable, sinister dynamics. Their canonization of Trump leaves them with no respect for democratic outcomes. He has fueled their fears of the Great Replacement Theory and anti-Semitism in America, while trying to insult Jews into supporting him. The farther Jews become removed from the Holocaust, the greater is our tendency to euphemize and sugar-coat bad news, and even to be enticed into far-right politics. Jews who cater to Trump are a mystifying lot, ignorant as to how they contribute to our own demise by supporting him.”
Trump has exploited decades of white nationalist frustrations and taken the Republican party to the outer fringes of the far-far right. His followers now appear to view the outcomes of the Civil War and WWII as objectionable, as witnessed by their unapologetic racism and growing allegiance to right-wing dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Victor Orban in Hungary. That CPAC held their conference in Hungary speaks volumes about the Republican mindset under Trump.
Trump’s insidiousness lies in the fact that his movement is gaining strength without him. As part of the America First coalition, there are 299 Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices, who deny the results of the 2020 Election. Their goal is to rig elections, restore Trump to power and stack every level of government with people friendly to their agenda. The fall of Liz Cheney and rise of Marjorie Taylor Greene underlines the extent of the threat.
People can no more be a little bit fascist than women can be a little bit pregnant. The parallels of our present dysfunction to Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here are haunting. Donald Trump is a real-life Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip. MAGA fulfills Lewis’s prophecy, depicted in his novel, of the League of Forgotten Men, while the army Trump commanded to storm the capital is the realization of Lewis’s Minute Men, a paramilitary force intervening in politics. His followers’ intent is to delegitimize any election results they don’t like and to take over every level of government. It IS happening here, and it must be stopped to prevent Civil War II, or the breakup of the United States.
John Daniel Davidson is the political editor of The Federalist. I first became aware of him in 2017 when, writing for The Guardian, he declared that Trump is no fascist. He is a champion for the forgotten millions, blaming Trump’s political ascent on Obama’s failure to live up to his promises to them working class. Five months later, at the same publication, he was whining— in the context of the GOP failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act— that Republicans don’t deliver on their promises either and that as a conservative, voting for Republicans is a waste of time. “There is a grave danger for Republicans in all of this,” he wrote. “If there’s one thing the 2016 presidential election should have taught the GOP establishment, it’s that Americans are disgusted with politics as usual– the showboating, the sloganeering, the canned talking points and the pervasive, poisonous insincerity of it all. That’s why Republican primary voters rejected, one by one, a field of presidential candidates full of experienced politicians. GOP voters were told their 2016 candidates were diverse and accomplished– and indeed they were. But they all had one thing in common: they were politicians, and Americans were fed up with politicians and politics as usual. So fed up, in fact, they did something drastic, maybe even reckless. They elected Donald Trump president. Now that the politicians have failed them yet again, and in such spectacular fashion, conservatives might conclude, with good reason, that there’s no point voting for Republicans because they don’t deliver on their promises once in power. They might conclude that Republicans, having failed to take seriously the discontent of ordinary Americans, don’t deserve to govern after all.” That was the end of July, 2017.
This morning— over 5 years later— Davidson’s Federalist piece urged conservatives to stop calling themselves “conservatives,” while ducking the obvious: that they just call themselves fascists or Nazis, which he proudly is andantes the GOP to be. He contends that “the conservative project has largely failed, and it is time for a new approach… [W]hat have conservatives succeeded in conserving? In just my lifetime, they have lost much: marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years, the First Amendment, any semblance of control over our borders, a fundamental distinction between men and women, and, especially of late, the basic rule of law.” He frets that his values and traditions are dead and dying, trampled to dust and that they “certainly do not form the basis of our common culture or civic life, as they did for most of our nation’s history… So what kind of politics should conservatives today, as inheritors of a failed movement, adopt? For starters, they should stop thinking of themselves as conservatives (much less as Republicans) and start thinking of themselves as radicals, restorationists, and counterrevolutionaries. Indeed, that is what they are, whether they embrace those labels or not.”
In other words, reactionaries. He still insists Trumpism is not fascism and sees his ilk as modern-day Pilgrims rather than as enablers of Nazis… although he certainly does urge the right to get used to the idea of wielding power, rather than despising it— sad, something from his imaginary world— “because accommodation or compromise with the left is impossible.” Sounding much like the Hitlerian Davidson certain is, he wrote that “The left will only stop when conservatives stop them, so conservatives will have to discard outdated and irrelevant notions about “small government.” The government will have to become, in the hands of conservatives, an instrument of renewal in American life— and in some cases, a blunt instrument indeed… [W]ielding government power will mean a dramatic expansion of the criminal code. It will not be enough, for example, to reach an accommodation with the abortion regime, to agree on ‘reasonable limits’ on when unborn human life can be snuffed out with impunity… Now comes the real fight, in state houses across the country, to outlaw completely the barbaric practice of killing the unborn. Conservatives had better be ready for it, and Republican politicians, if they want to stay in office, had better have an answer ready when they are asked what reasonable limits to abortion restrictions they would support. The answer is: none, for the same reason they would not support reasonable limits to restrictions on premeditated murder.”
John Daniel Davidson is a fascist and The Federalist is a fascist publication. Davidson demands the right to discriminate against gays, arrest doctors for murder if they perform an abortion and undo all laws protecting consumers and the environment from the depredations of corporate greed. The end of income taxes; public educations… Bring back the right to smoke of airplanes! Big surprise! And, while you're at it, change the name of The Federalist to The Fascist.
I don’t know how much good it will do, but in his column this morning, John Pavlovitz tried appealing to the 100 million-plus Americans who didn’t vote in 2018. Will they help save us from:
• relentless assaults on healthcare, • legislative attacks on the rights of women, • the gutting of environmental protections, • the proliferation of high-powered weapons, • emboldened nazis and racists, • white nationalists in Congress, • vanishing LGBTQ protections, • evangelists and preachers defending rapists, • a burgeoning Theocracy of Bible-sanctioned bigotry
Pavlovitz wonders aloud if those 100 million-plus non-voters think of themselves as people who made a terrible mistake and if they “believe this America was worth the hour or two you saved on that day in November— and if this November will be different for you… More than 100 million people thought so little of the freedoms Americans who came before them protested and were jailed for, were beaten and imprisoned for, fought and died for— that they would simply abstain. More than 100 million people didn’t find a compelling enough reason to leave the house and allot a couple of hours to speak into the future of their children, of their country, of the planet. More than 100 million people just opted out of one of the most critical responsibilities we have as citizens of this country.”
I don’t know why you were silent in 2018, but I want you to know that your silence was costly, regardless. Your abstinence then was loud and so your presence now needs to be even louder in making it right.
Soon, tens of millions of us will continue to be the kind of people the world needs, we will keep pushing back against so much that seems so very wrong since the election, and I really hope to see you alongside us— even if we never meet or have a conversation about the election.
No matter why you stayed home then, I truly hope you’re with us now.
I hope you’ve joined us in the fight against the hateful people in power because we need you.
I hope you’ll raise your voice in these days, because the world needs to hear you.